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Don Kinzler, Published May 17 2013

Growing together: Garden center field trip inspirational

Being of stoic German descent, the emergence of rhubarb in spring doesn’t usually make me giddy. This year it did. I suspect I am not alone in watching buds open with new delight.

To completely banish last winter, I am advocating an all-out planting spree. Come along with me as I relate my tour of local greenhouses and nurseries.

Calling all places that sell plants “garden centers” is like using the term “restaurant” to describe both fine dining and fast food. The experiences differ. Some places grow, others simply retail.

Before we take our fieldtrip, let’s remember our greenhouse etiquette.

When you take a label out of a pot or pack to read the fine points, put it back where it belongs so the next customer doesn’t harvest cabbage when he wanted broccoli.

Greenhouse aisles are sometimes narrow. If you are an average American – a bit wide at the hips – it is courtesy to back up and yield the right-of-way. It is permissible to first grab your sought-after plant, and then retreat. Gardeners are nice except when it comes to the last jalapeno four-pack in an otherwise empty tray. And I don’t want to see anyone bruised and battered over Salvia farinacea, no matter how prime.

I have limited my comments to the highlights I observed. In order to blend in, I disguised myself as an ordinary customer.

Shotwell’s Greenhouse

4000 40th St. S., Fargo

E Great experience of shopping in a grower-type greenhouse. Nice aroma of plants, humidity and soil.

E Informative signage was helpful by each type of annual and vegetable.

E Plants were stocky and well-grown. Wide selection of plants for combination planters. Geraniums were well-branched. Hanging baskets were full and top-notch.

Baker Garden and Gift

2733 S. University Dr., Fargo

E Well-organized layout gave a nice greenhouse experience.

E Large selection of perennials with good signage. Great collection of well-grown hosta plants. Trees and shrubs displayed with generous walkways. High quality throughout. Wide selection of herb plants.

Kroshus Nursery

5518 51st Ave. S., Fargo

E Large area devoted to well-adapted trees and shrubs.

E Good informative tags.

E Greenhouses were filled with wide selection of potted plants for containers. Many ready-to-go tomato plants in two-gallon pots.

S & S Landscaping

2777 Fiechtner Dr. S., Fargo

E Trees and shrubs were well-displayed along wide walkways with informative signage.

E Generous outdoor area devoted to perennials.

Holland’s

1201 Center Ave., Moorhead

E Welcoming entry displays.

E High-quality potted hybrid tea roses.

E Nice selection of well-adapted trees and shrubs with descriptive signs. Quality was evident.

E Even a play area for kids.

Ole’s Nursery

2503 Center Ave., Moorhead

E Geraniums were well-branched and vigorous.

E Showroom looked inviting for sit-down landscape consultation.

E Well-adapted shrubs and trees.

Levi Runions Garden Center

6970 70th St. S., Sabin, Minn.

E Well worth the few minutes drive.

E Bedding plants obviously home-grown and prime quality. Many unique potted items for combination planters. Good selection of vegetable plants.

E Pleasant greenhouse experience.

Sheyenne Gardens

17010 29th St. S.E., Harwood, N.D.

E Well worth the quick drive up Interstate 29.

E Comfortable atmosphere and lots of information gave assurance that a former horticulture professor was at the helm.

E Educational handmade signs.

E Huge quantity of home-grown perennials was being uncovered from winter storage. Solid selection of recommended vegetables, annuals, trees and shrubs.

E Display gardens at entry will make return trips a must.

Driscoll Farms Greenhouses

Fargo and Moorhead SunMart and Cashwise stores

E Prime quality bedding plants. Compact, well-branched, and healthy. Petunias, marigolds, pansies, and all material very well-grown.

Hildebrandt’s Farmers Market

349 E. Main Ave., West Fargo

E Informative signs on all plants.

E Annuals and vegetables were healthy and well-maintained.

Fleet Farm

3730 36th St. S., Fargo

E Good selection of vegetables. Well-rounded assortment of plants.

E Trees were well-tagged including hardiness zones.

Home Depot

4700 17th Ave. S., Fargo

E Nice signage differentiating perennial from annual area.

E Plants were nicely displayed on solid wooden benches.

Lowe’s

5001 13th Ave. S., Fargo

E Welcoming entry display.

E Annual flowers were healthy and well-cared for.

Menards

1300 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, and 3000 27th Ave. S., Moorhead

E Good assortment of foliage accents for use in combination planters.

Walmart

3757 55th Ave. S. and 4731 13th Ave. S., both Fargo; and 415 34th St. N., Dilworth

E Wide assortment of trees, shrubs, vegetables, annuals and perennials.

Kmart

2301 S. University Dr., Fargo; 3000 U.S. Highway 10, Moorhead

E Hanging baskets, planters and a variety of annuals, perennials and vegetables.

About guarantees

It may surprise you that I am opposed to one-year guarantees.

Of course material must be true to name and adapted to our region. But I cannot give you a written guarantee that I will be alive in one year, let alone a tree, shrub or perennial.

Part of “Growing Together” is ensuring that we are able to purchase quality material. Let’s support our growers with the passion befitting gardeners.

This column was written exclusively for The Forum.

Don Kinzler writes a weekly yard and gardening column in SheSays. Readers can reach him at donkinzler@msn.com.